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  1. #181
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schigolch View Post
    Well, the ability to pay less taxes when you are making cultural donations, widespread in the US, *is* also a form of government subsidies. No way the MET could raise $182 millions from almost 50,000 donors otherwise.
    Well, it's not like we save any money by doing this. Our cultural donations get us a tax discount, but the discount is much less than the amount of the donation. Say, I donate $1,000. I get this amount written off in my tax return, so that whatever bracket I ultimately fall into - let's say, 30% - results in the donation getting me to pay $300 less in taxes. But then, I've already paid $1,000 so it's not like I'm making any money on this, I'm rather *spending* $700. So people donate because they care for the cause, not because they'll save on taxes.

    Yes, you're right that it is a form of governmental subsidy, like a matching grant - in this case, the donor is giving the Met $700 and the government is giving $300. But my point is, it can't be constructed as the reason why people donate. Otherwise, without the subsidy, they might still donate $700 instead of $1,000, but would donate anyway.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  2. #182
    Schigolch
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    Let's say you have to pay $10,000 taxes because of your revenue. If you donate $1,000 to the MET, then the goverment allows you to pay only $9,700. That actually means goverment is paying $300 to the MET, so this is subsidizing. Hey, they aren't even making that donation the objective of a value add tax, that would be an additional charge.

    If the goverment didn't subsidize, then, if we stick to the 30% rule, in order for the MET to raise $182 millions, they will need people be willing to pay that, instead of the $140 millions they are *really* paying.

  3. #183
    Schigolch
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    Quote Originally Posted by Almaviva View Post
    Wow! I loved it! What did the Opera critic say?
    Martin Bernheimer


    In the good old days-also the not-so-good old days-the metropolitan opera rang out the old year with the would-be frivolity of Johann Strauss's Die Fledermaus. But Peter Gelb, the über-impresario in residence, has developed other repertory ideas, and none more ambitious than The Enchanted Island. Introduced amid citywide brouhaha and gala glitz, the company called its New Year's Eve innovation a pasticcio. Others might call it a messy hodgepodge, maybe even a silly, precious, pretentious bore. The reconstituted Baroque fantasy certainly was given a clever production and a mostly strong cast. A period-performance expert manned the podium. Still, success turned out to be skimpy, or so it seemed to at least one reluctant iconoclast.



    The pasticcio was a popular diversion in the 18th century, a stage piece recycling music from existing works by various composers. Audiences apparently liked to hear familiar tunes in unfamiliar contexts, with new words added along with new narrative signals. The Met mishmash, ambitiously devised by Jeremy Sams and broadly directed by Phelim McDermott, juggles Shakespeare's Tempest and Midsummer Night's Dream. It embellishes both plots and pauses for a stultifying ballet by Graciela Daniele, complete with a cygnet-spoof cliché.



    Sams's chatty libretto imposes fussy, often incomprehensible English phrases on melodies that stubbornly resist the chosen stresses and accents. The hand-me-down score, which bumbles and doodles in numerous directions without defining dramatic impetus, raids operas, cantatas and oratorios by eight innocent composers, most notably Handel, Vivaldi, Rameau and Purcell. It may be significant that the Met does not identify the specific sources in its voluminous programme magazine. Details are offered only on the company website. Apparently no one in the house is supposed to care about what music comes from where.



    After the overture to Handel's Alcina, the curtain rises on what looks like a charming, razzle-dazzly variation on an antique toy theatre. Julian Crouch, the ingenious designer, depicts the bookish domain of Prospero at stage right, counterbalanced by Sycorax's gnarled and dismal dwelling at stage left. An ornate circular frame in the middle serves as a stage within this stage, showcasing a series of aquatic tableaux quasi-vivants plus fanciful video projections and cartoon animations created by the 59 Productions collective. If only The Enchanted Island sounded as inventive, as witty and as compelling as it looked.



    The conductor, William Christie, worked hard, sometimes with success, to sustain grace (repetitive grace) and a sense of immediacy in a house that is way too big for so fragile a challenge. The Met, after all, accommodates 4,000. The singers did what they could, for better or worse. Better: Joyce DiDonato cackled, curled and soared with virtuosic flair in the bitchy-witchy spasms of Sycorax. Luca Pisaroni exuded dark-edged pathos as Caliban. In countertenor territory, David Daniels's slightly rusty Prospero contrasted nicely with Anthony Roth Costanzo's bright and sweet Ferdinand. Lisette Oropesa (Miranda) and Layla Claire (Helena) floated innocently through their confused-soprano platitudes, and Elizabeth DeShong made Hermia strikingly plush and spunky. Worse: in his brief star turn, Plácido Domingo imposed verismo intensity on Neptune while doddering dutifully amid flying mermaids. Danielle de Niese strutted and simpered with unbearable cutesiness as a painfully shrill Ariel.

    Gelb justified the project provocatively in a preview published in the ever supportive New York Times. ‘I'm always interested in trying to stretch the repertory in ways that can be appealing both for the artists and the public,' he declared. ‘I wanted to play the Baroque card, but with a faster dramatic rhythm tailored to modern attention spans.' Given the unenchanted evening that followed, this may have been wishful stretching, also wishful card-playing. The festivities began, not incidentally, at 6.30pm. They ended, many hours and several lives later, at 10.

  4. #184
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schigolch View Post
    Let's say you have to pay $10,000 taxes because of your revenue. If you donate $1,000 to the MET, then the goverment allows you to pay only $9,700. That actually means goverment is paying $300 to the MET, so this is subsidizing. Hey, they aren't even making that donation the objective of a value add tax, that would be an additional charge.

    If the goverment didn't subsidize, then, if we stick to the 30% rule, in order for the MET to raise $182 millions, they will need people be willing to pay that, instead of the $140 millions they are *really* paying.
    Well, that's what I said. The government *is* subsidizing. I did say the government is paying $300 to the Met. Quoting myself: "Yes, you're right that it is a form of governmental subsidy, like a matching grant - in this case, the donor is giving the Met $700 and the government is giving $300."

    My point was to say that we donate because we care, not because we save in taxes, since actually we don't "save," in your example we'd pay $10,700 instead of $10,000. What we pay is always more than what we deduct in taxes. So the government adds an incentive, but if they didn't, we'd still donate, which was my point.

    And also, it's the correct thing to do, for the government. And in a sense, I actually agree more with our system.

    See, in Europe the government gives directly to the opera houses, regardless of whether the citizens want to sponsor this kind of art or not.

    Here, the government leaves the initiative to the citizens. If we decide to support this or that cause, then the government adds a sort of matching grant by waving the tax that they'd have collected from us in proportion to the donation. So that means that the government is subsidizing the very causes that the citizens care to help, which is actually quite democratic. If we find a cause (or art form) to be worthy of our support, then the government is also subsidizing it.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  5. #185
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Well, I entirely and thoroughly disagree with this critic. What a grumpy old man! (whatever his chronological age is).

    Why would one fault a piece because the playbill failed to quote the detailed sources of each number? The information *was* available on the web site. The piece itself exists independently of the playbill, so this is really silly criticism.

    Yes, the visuals were fabulous - and of course, this *is* one of the strong points.

    The English language stretched the music? Well, duh, how could it have been otherwise? It's a pastiche, for Pete's sake! Necessarily, the new text won't be as matched to the music as the original text. It doesn't prevent the fun, really. Could it have been better in terms of stresses? I suppose. It can always be better. But it's not an easy task, and in my opinion the result was good enough.

    Yes, the conductor worked hard, and he was actually pretty good. It doesn't get a lot better than that. Who else did this critic want? William Christie is stupendous. This is the kind of foolish criticism of someone who wants to be found to be smart. The Met got the best of the best for this performance, and it was great.

    "The singers did what they could, for better or worse." The vocal analysis here, I tend to agree, but what opera doesn't have weak links in the cast? This cast was still sublime, and the highs far outweighed the lows.

    And yes, Danielle De Niese is not a heavy weight, and suffers in a house with 4,000 seats. But she is very talented otherwise and her performance was charming and compelling.

    My verdict: this grumpy old man doesn't know what he is saying. It was a great night of operatic fun.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  6. #186
    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    Here are a couple of quotes from the review:

    "In the good old days -- also the not-so-good old days -- the Metropolitan Opera rang out the old year with the would-be frivolity of Johann Strauss's Die Fledermaus. But Peter Gelb, the über-impresario in residence, has developed other repertory ideas, and none more ambitious than The Enchanted Island. Introduced amid citywide brouhaha and gala glitz, the company called its New Year's Eve innovation a pasticcio. Others might call it a messy hodgepodge, maybe even a silly, pretentious bore . . . "

    "The Met mishmash, ambitiously devised by Jeremy Sams and broadly directed by Phelim McDermott, juggles Shakespeare's Tempest and Midsummer Night's Dream. It embellishes both plots and pauses for a stultifying ballet by Graciela Daniele, complete with a cygnet-spoof cliché.

    "Sams' chatty libretto imposes fussy, often incomprehensible English phrases on melodies that stubbornly resist the chosen stresses and accents. The hand-me-down score, which bumbles and doodles in numerous directions without defining dramatic impetus, raids operas, cantatas, and oratorios by eight innocent composers, most notably Handel, Vivaldi, Rameau, and Purcell. It may be significant that the Met does not identify the specific sources in its voluminous programme magazine. Details are offered only on the company's website. Apparently, no one in the house is supposed to care about what music comes from where."

    The reviewer did like the sets, and finished the paragraph describing them with the remark, "If only The Enchanted Island sounded as inventive, as witty, and as compelling as it looked."

    Conductor William Christie got high marks for working hard to sustain "a sense of grace and immediacy" in the Met's huge house. The reviewer goes on to write "The singers did what they could, for better or worse." Joyce Di Donato, Luca Pisaroni, David Daniels, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Lisette Oropesa, Layla Claire, and Elizabeth DeShong were all placed in the "better" category. "Worse" were Placido Domingo, who "imposed verismo intensity on Neptune while doddering dutifully amid flying mermaids," and Danielle De Niese, who "strutted and simpered with unbearable cutesiness as a painfully shrill Ariel."

  7. #187
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Yes, that's what Schigolch posted right above. And I've commented on it.
    What about our members here? Have you seen The Enchanted Island? What did you think of it?
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  8. #188
    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    My whole point in mentioning donations or tax subsidies to opera companies is that audiences are paying -- one way or another -- for the seats they occupy. And often paying a lot. For opera house authorities to completely ignore their wishes, or for stage directors to even make a point of trying to provoke or offend them, is unacceptable, IMO. And at least in the U.S., where houses rely primarily on donations and ticket sales for their funding, deliberately snubbing your audience is asking for trouble. I would add that, while opera houses may not be business enterprises that need to make a profit, they do at least need to maintain a balanced budget. Again, going deeply into debt is asking for trouble.

  9. #189
    Schigolch
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    For Teatro Real, those are the revenue financial details (in thousand of Euros):

    Budget: 54,114
    Government subsidies: 22,187 (that includes Federal goverment, State and City subsidies).
    Box office: 17,775
    Donations: 10,117
    Others: 5,035 (Hiring of the theater, Marketing, recordings,...)

    The forecast is to lose around 500k Euros this year, major expenses are of course salaries, and productions.

  10. #190
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MAuer View Post
    My whole point in mentioning donations or tax subsidies to opera companies is that audiences are paying -- one way or another -- for the seats they occupy. And often paying a lot. For opera house authorities to completely ignore their wishes, or for stage directors to even make a point of trying to provoke or offend them, is unacceptable, IMO. And at least in the U.S., where houses rely primarily on donations and ticket sales for their funding, deliberately snubbing your audience is asking for trouble. I would add that, while opera houses may not be business enterprises that need to make a profit, they do at least need to maintain a balanced budget. Again, going deeply into debt is asking for trouble.
    But the thing is, I wonder if the complainers at the Met are not just a vocal minority. Every time I go, the house is full. I see young people there. The latest financial report had the Met turning a profit. I don't really see this decline of the Met people have been vocal about - not to forget the thousands and thousands of viewers of the Met Live in HD series around the world. So, I think people complain a lot of Mr. Gelb but he is actually doing solid financial management.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  11. #191
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Met: The latest financial report available online is the 2010, which still shows a loss, but I heard that in 2011 there was a profit.
    So, here are the 2010 numbers, in millions of dollars (I'm rounding the numbers):
    Contributions and grants: 127.5 M
    Program revenue: 134.5 M
    Investment income: 4.5 M
    Other revenue: 5.3 M
    Total revenue: 271.8 M

    Expenses:
    Grants paid: 0.5 M
    Salaries, other compensation, employees benefits: 296.5 M (4,267 employees)
    Other expenses: 70 M
    Total expenses 296.5 M

    Loss: approximately 25 M

    -----------

    But then, there is another item that is confusing.
    They say that preparation and presentation of operas cost 231 M and brought in a revenue of 97.8 M
    Preparation and broadcast of Met Live in HD cost 25.2 M and generated 29 M.
    Presentation of events other than opera cost 6.8 M and brought in 7.3 M

    And then they say Total Assets 351.6 M and Total Liabilities 216.7 M, balance + 134.8 M

    -----------

    I don't know how to conciliate the two parts of this report. Did they make money? This positive balance of 134 M, and that loss of 25 M, how to interpret this? Schigolch?

    Link:

    http://www.metoperafamily.org/upload...dactedCopy.pdf
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  12. #192
    Schigolch
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    No, they lost money, some $25 millions of it.

    The $134 millions is simply the Equity. Don't have any idea, from the first sheet of that paper, what are the actual accounts under this Equity (and I'm not really interested in reading the entire document ), but if you look at the 2009 Equity, and the 2010, you will see it has reduced in some $31,5 millions.

  13. #193
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Apparently in 2011 they made money. I seem to remember reading it somewhere.
    Because if people question Mr. Gelb's leadership and then he starts losing money, he's in real trouble.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  14. #194
    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Almaviva View Post
    But the thing is, I wonder if the complainers at the Met are not just a vocal minority. Every time I go, the house is full. I see young people there. The latest financial report had the Met turning a profit. I don't really see this decline of the Met people have been vocal about - not to forget the thousands and thousands of viewers of the Met Live in HD series around the world. So, I think people complain a lot of Mr. Gelb but he is actually doing solid financial management.
    That, of course, is the challenge -- to determine if the majority of your audience feels a certain way, or if it's just a very noisy minority of gripers. I know Gelb can't please everyone, and what he's doing right now (what I'd call the "something for everyone" approach) seems to make the most sense.

  15. #195
    Opera Lively Media Consultant Top Contributor Member Ann Lander (sospiro)'s Avatar
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    ROH has announced that American soprano Jennifer Rowley will sing the role of Isabelle in Robert le diable in place of Diana Damrau who is pregnant.
    "The world calls them its singers and poets and artists and storytellers; but they are just people who have never forgotten the way to fairyland."
    Lucy Maud Montgomery

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